Keflezighi four-peats, wins Equalizer Bonus at USA 15 km Championships
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
USA Track & Field
De Reuck USA Women's Champion at Gate River Run
Race report by Mark Zenobia, Men's LDR
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - (March 13, 2004) - Meb Keflezighi of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., after a fierce battle with fellow Olympian Abdi Abdirahman, won his fourth consecutive USA Men's 15 km road title at the Gate River Run. His time of 43:19 edged Abdirahman by 2 seconds. Keflezighi, 28, joins Team Running USA teammate Deena Kastor (formerly Drossin) as the only four-time consecutive 15 km national champions. U.S. 15 km record holder Todd Williams earned five USA 15 km titles here.
In the women's race, three-time Olympian Colleen De Reuck of Boulder, Colo. won her first USA 15 km crown decisively. She and national runner-up Sylvia Mosqueda of Los Angeles, both prepping for the upcoming Olympic Marathon Trials in St. Louis, ran side-by-side until the 4 kilometer mark before De Reuck, 39, broke free and continued to build the lead. Her final winning margin was 66 seconds, 49:03 to 50:09.
In a new twist at Gate, the elite women were given a 5:16 head start to compete for the inaugural "Equalizer Bonus" of $5000. That bonus check would be presented to the first champion to cross the finish line. De Reuck held the Bonus lead until just past the 8 mile mark before being overtaken by the men's leaders Keflezighi and Abdirahman. The final margin of victory was 29 seconds with the Bonus battle being won on the home stretch over the very tough Hart Bridge.
The battle between Keflezighi and Abdirahman, who resides in Tucson, was joined from the start. Eventual third place finisher, Chris Graff, the 2003 USA 10 Mile national champion, stayed close for the first 5 miles until the top two began to lengthen their advantage. The pair ran together through mile 8 and then traded the lead until Keflezighi - who recently finished second at the Olympic Marathon Trials to earn a trip to Athens - took control with 200 meters to go.
For his "double" win, Keflezighi took home $15,000 including the Equalizer Bonus with De Reuck claiming a check of $10,000. For their national runner-up finishes, Abdirahman and Mosqueda each earned $4000 as part of the record $52,000 USA Championship prize purse.
Although the Gate course had been slightly modified for 2004, it remained fast, scenic as over 7,500 runners finished the 27th edition.
As the second stop for men and first event for women on the 2004 USA Running Circuit, the top ten U.S. runners earned USARC points at Gate River. With his win, Keflezighi moved into first place with 39 points, while Olympic Marathon Trials champion Alan Culpepper is second (30 points). For the women, De Reuck, the 2002-03 USARC GP champion, holds the #1 spot in the standings.
The USARC, a USA Track & Field road series, features USA Championships from the 5 km to marathon and offers over $820,000 in prize money. Per USARC race, the first ten U.S. runners earn points (15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1) with a final $12,500 grand prix purse ($6000, $4000 and $2500) for the top three men and women.
Visit www.usatf.org for the top 10 results and USARC standings and more.